The government will fall well short of its 2022 recruitment targets for Garda.
Secretary of State Helen McEntee has admitted that by the end of the year only 460 recruits will have completed training or be in the process of training – just over half of the 800 promised in last year’s budget.
However, the minister said she was confident an even more ambitious target of this year’s budget of 1,000 new hires in 2023 can be met.
Ms McEntee blamed “a backlog of Covid-19” for the poor recruitment numbers, despite the fact that 11,000 people applied to join the force following a recruitment drive earlier this year.
“We’ve had challenges over the past two years with our inability to get the numbers we wanted through Templemore, which has impacted recruitment overall,” Ms McEntee said.
It is the second year in a row that Garda has failed to deliver on recruitment numbers announced in a budget.
In October 2020, up to 620 new Garda recruits were promised for 2021. However, that year only 386 had started training and 146 were certified.
The deficits mean the government’s goal of reaching 15,000 Gardaí in 2023 will not be met.
At the end of July there were 14,300 in the force. More than 300 Gardaí typically retire each year.
The Justice Secretary said she hoped the force’s strength would be close to 15,000 by the end of next year but would not predict when that number would eventually be reached.
Last August, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the force needed more than 15,000 sworn members and more than 4,000 civilian auxiliaries to meet growing demands.
The setbacks come amid ongoing concerns that the force lacks visibility in both urban and rural communities.
“The reason why I am confident that we will get the 1,000 [in 2023] We got to the stage where we’ll have 200 through the Public Appointments Service [recruits] every three months,” Ms. McEntee said.
Her comments came after Garda Representative Association interim general secretary Philip McAnenly pointed out that far fewer than the promised 800 recruits for 2022 had actually materialized.
“We expect that Garda management will make these new 1,000 positions a priority for the safety and well-being of our members and the public, but also that they continue to address issues within the force in order to pursue a career in An Garda.” Síochána safer and more attractive to potential recruits,” said Mr. McAnenly.
Ms McEntee said innovations in technology and body-worn cameras would be introduced to make the job safer and more attractive.
The setbacks come amid ongoing concerns that the force lacks visibility in both urban and rural communities
“The fact that 11,000 people applied shows how An Garda Síochána is held. People see it as a very positive and very good career and something that people want to be a part of,” she said.
Meanwhile, Ms McEntee ruled out any large-scale reception of Russian refugees in Ireland unless a decision on the issue is taken at EU level.
Thousands have fled the country to avoid being conscripted to fight in Ukraine after Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization”.
Ms McEntee said Ireland has “not closed its doors” to people coming from Russia, with visas generally being issued for family reunions or when an Irish national is married to a Russian national.
However, she said that any decision to support Russian citizens seeking asylum must stem from an EU-level decision.
50,000 Ukrainians have been admitted to Ireland since the Russian invasion in February.
https://www.independent.ie/business/budget/a-budget-pledge-broken-just-over-half-of-the-800-garda-recruits-promised-for-this-year-will-be-delivered-42024768.html A budget promise broken: Just over half of the 800 Garda recruits promised for this year will be delivered